Free Fishing Days this week

Water and Wings by Ken Parrott

The ODNR Division of Wildlife’s six fish hatcheries stocked more than 55 million sport fish in public waters in 2015, including walleye, saugeye, steelhead, rainbow trout, brown trout, muskellunge, channel catfish, blue catfish and hybrid striped bass, which will provide opportunities for more than 1.3 million Ohio anglers.

Ohio State Parks is also offering a camping discount during Ohio’s Free Fishing Days. Campers can receive a 20 percent off discount May 6-7 by using the promotion code 16ANGLER.

The Free Fishing Days weekend offers Ohioans of all ages the chance to experience the fun of catching a fish. Here are some helpful tips for taking a youngster out fishing: Keep the trip simple by considering a child’s age and skill level; Choose a pond, lake or stream where children will be able to easily catch a few fish; A spin-cast reel is usually the easiest for kids to use; Bring a camera and snacks; Be patient. Plan on spending time untangling lines, baiting hooks, landing fish and taking pictures; Most of all, keep the trip fun.

Anglers 16 years and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters when not fishing on Ohio’s free fishing weekend. An Ohio resident fishing license is only $19 a year for residents. Fishing licenses are available at participating agents and

The sales of fishing licenses, along with the Sport Fish Restoration program, continue to fund ODNR Division of Wildlife’s fish management operations. No state tax dollars are used for these activities. These are user-pay, user-benefit programs. The SFR is a partnership between federal and state governments, industry and anglers/boaters. When anglers purchase rods, reels, fishing tackle, fish finder and motor boat fuel, they pay an excise tax. The federal government collects these taxes, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers and disburses these funds to state fish and wildlife agencies. These funds are used to acquire habitat, produce and stock fish, conduct research and surveys, provide aquatic education, as well as acquire and develop boat accesses.

• Anglers are being asked to participate in a new online survey that will be delivered this spring. Approximately 25,000 randomly selected Ohio Fishing License holders will receive an email invitation from The Ohio State University requesting their participation in the survey that covers fishing-related topics, according to the ODNR.

Many people frequently ask ODNR Division of Wildlife employees and legislators about how many anglers fish in Lake Erie. This survey is aimed at answering that question, as well as understanding how Ohio’s licensed anglers utilize other resources managed by the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

Anglers that have recently fished Lake Erie will be asked a series of questions about walleye, yellow perch or black bass fishing to help determine what characteristics of these fisheries determine successful fishing trips. Fisheries biologists will use this information to determine management strategies for these important fisheries.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife routinely partners with The Ohio State University to conduct research about Ohio’s fisheries. The results will help the division understand aquatic resource utilization patterns of Ohio’s anglers across the state.

• Ohio hunters checked 8,629 wild turkeys the first week of the wild turkey hunting season, April 18-24. In 2015 hunters checked 8,158 wild turkeys the first week of the season. Ohio’s spring wild turkey season is open April 18 through Sunday, May 15.

Hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey hunting permit. The spring season bag limit is two bearded turkeys. Hunters can harvest one bearded turkey per day, and a second spring turkey permit can be purchased at any time throughout the spring turkey season. Turkeys must be checked by 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from April 18-May 1. Hunting hours from May 2-15 are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Hunters may use shotguns or archery equipment to hunt wild turkeys. It is unlawful to hunt turkeys using bait, live decoys or electronic calling devices or to shoot a wild turkey while it is in a tree.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife advises turkey hunters to wear hunter orange clothing when entering, leaving or moving through hunting areas in order to remain visible to others.

Wild turkeys were extirpated in Ohio by 1904 and were reintroduced in the 1950s by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Ohio’s first modern day wild turkey season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The wild turkey harvest topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984.

Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!

Water and Wings by Ken Parrott

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.